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At Last: Official Comparison of Crime Rates

At Last: Official Comparison of Crime Rates

Friday 21 Jun 2002 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

"At last the Justice Minister has released some official comparison of New Zealand's crime rates with those of Canada, the United States, England, Wales and Australia," says ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks.

"But it just underscores the need to use authoritative victim surveys. Police records, as his paper shows, vary enormously according to Police practice and crime definitions.

"The paper says 12 times in its 11 pages that international police record comparison is problematic, warning that "great caution should be adopted in interpreting [them]".

"I have been asking for official New Zealand comparisons for more than a year.

"The release of these just before the election seems designed to ensure everyone stays confused. Mr Goff has had it for more than a week. He has issued press statements based on it several days ago.

"The methodology is debateable, but Mr Goff has ensured there will not be the time for the necessary close scrutiny by experts.

"Mr Goff's report highlights the problems in using foreign police-sourced figures. The room for misinterpretation is shown by the gaps before our officials' translation into what they see as a common basis.

"It beggars belief that Australia could have seven times the violent crime of New Zealand if New Zealand used the US definition and Australia used its own.

"That is why ACT highlights standardised crime victimisation surveys. Internationally they are far more reliable indicators of the risk of being a victim.

"Mr Goff's report refers to a 1996 New Zealand National Survey. It was updated last year, but he is now telling journalists the figures need more analysis and will not be available until November.

"He mentions the 2000 International Crime Victims Survey of 17 countries, not including New Zealand, without explaining why he chose to keep New Zealand out of that survey.

"That survey had the horrifying finding that the United Kingdom was in some areas twice as violent as the United States, and worse in all crimes other than murder. That survey drove the Blair Government into taking crime seriously.

"The Government appears to be deliberately suppressing the report of its own victimisation survey due out months ago. ACT will continue to rely on the reputable international study managed for the 17 participating countries by the Dutch Government. It shows Australia as the country with the highest risk of violent crime and much worse than the USA.

"Mr Goff's report confirms that New Zealand violent crime is similar to that of Australia, and possibly higher overall, so we know we are worse than USA.

"ACT would ensure that New Zealand participates in proper international surveys. We will also focus in this campaign on the key comparison which no spin can obscure, that is that serious violent crime is increasing in New Zealand whereas in the United States it has dropped year after year, against the predictions of most of the experts, after President Clinton abolished federal parole and implemented other Truth in Sentencing reforms.

"ACT will not resile from our policies, or the analysis on which they are based. They are positive and practical and proven from overseas experience," Stephen Franks said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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